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My favourite restaurants of 2017

December 29, 2017
Le Dali, Le Meurice, Paris

This year blogging has taken a bit of a backseat as I’ve had to prioritise other things.  But below is a summary of all the restaurants I loved this year, from London to Stockholm to Marrakech:


Neo Bistro ££

One of my top 2017 favourites is this slightly under the radar bistro, set up by the ex-Harwood Arms chef and the owner of Anglo. Ignore its slightly dodgy location right by Oxford Street as this cosy restaurant offers a fantastic tasting menu at great value: six courses for £45.

Neo Bistro, London

Serge et le Phoque, The Mandrake Hotel ££

Well this certainly was a bit of a showstopper.  Not just the restaurant, but the Mandrake Hotel itself.  It’s certainly ‘out there’ in terms of decor and design; fun, over the top and daring.  The restaurant is more toned down, with a real focus on the food.  Which is very good.  Also, the bathrooms are very cool.

Serge et le Phoque, Mandrake Hotel, London

Magpie £

Magpie is the new restaurant by the guys who opened the very popular (Michelin star) Pidgin in Hackney.  Its very central location on Heddon Street means no excuses not to go, and 100% worth it.  Fun vibes, with trolleys of small plates zipping by, ensuring you can try the full range of their delicious dishes.   The tartare in particular was excellent.

Magpie, London

CUT at 45 Park Lane £££

An oldie but a goodie.  You can’t go wrong with a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, but it’s been an age since I’ve had meat as good as it was here.  The perfect place for a spoiling dinner.

Wishlist: Southam Street, Clove Club, Lyle’s (yes, I know I’ve very behind)



The Mash Inn, Buckinghamshire 

It’s only been open for a year or so but it’s gone from strength to strength.  This pub with rooms, less than a 30 minute train ride from Marylebone, is ideal for a quick London getaway.  Especially for foodies, their 9 course tasting menu (£65) is phenomenal.  And the homemade breakfast in bed is the best wake up ever.

The Mash Inn

The Bull Inn, Cotswolds

One of my favourite countryside getaways this year was at the adorable and beyond cosy Bull Inn, a beautiful pub with rooms in the charming village of Charlbury.  Every room is carefully designed with a lovely use of colour and different wallpaper, and it was close to impossible leaving their cosy fireplace.  Their restaurant offers well priced, hearty British dishes and the staff are wonderful.

The Bull Inn, Charlbury



Piano Strada, Rome

A new favourite in a city which keeps on giving.  This restaurant, run by four blondes, ticks all the boxes. Great location, cool interiors, excellent food.  We’ve booked to return in January.

Piana Strade, Rome

Apollinare, Spoleto 

Should you find yourself in this quiet but very pretty Umbrian town, make sure you have lunch at this brilliant restaurant.  It was the first lunch we had of our holiday, but safe to say also the best.  Book a table on their terrace and eat pasta to your hearts content.

Apollinare, Spoleto



Oaxen Slip

Our favourite restaurant in the city with a lot of good restaurants.  Charming service, lovely setting, and excellent food. Obviously go for the fish dishes, you are in Sweden after all.

Oaxen Slip, Stockholm

Rosendals Tradgard

The only place for a picnic lunch in Stockholm’s summer months.  No prettier place to be than in Rosendal Park, eating the cafe’s delicious sandwiches and cafes. Affordable too (for Stockholm).

Rosendals Tradgard, Stockholm

More recommendations for Stockholm can be found here.



La Famille

Like stepping into an oasis of calm and green, in the middle of Marrakech’s hectic medina.  If you need a break from tagines then La Famille is the answer, offering incredible salads and pastas and cakes in a beautiful, bohemian setting.

Le Famille, Marrakech

Wishlist: La Table du Marche

More tips for Morocco can be found here.



Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee

The most sparkly, beautiful breakfast imaginable.  I can only imagine what dinner is like here.

Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee

Le Dali at Le Meurice

There are few more eye catching restaurants than Le Dali, in one of the most iconic hotels in Paris.  And *those* deserts! Not to be missed.

Le Dali, Le Meurice

Wishlist: Carbon, Balagan




Located in up and coming East Amsterdam in the iconic Entrepot dock, this brand new restaurant is not only beautiful to look at, but the food is good too.  And not your standard fare either, often seasonal products are used, mostly cooked on an open fire.  I love the service here, who greet you with a handshake and were exceptionally friendly and helpful all evening.

Entrepot, Amsterdam


Despite its odd location, just outside the city along a motorway, Restaurant Bureau is a unique restaurant with an incredible rooftop terrace and a well priced menu.  It’s not the place for first time Amsterdam visitors, but if you know the city well, this is the ideal place to try something different.

Bureau, Amsterdam

For more Amsterdam tips, click here.

Wishlist: Choux, Marius, Vinkeles (at the Dylan)



The Japanese Restaurant, the Chedi

The most romantic setting for dinner, sitting at the candlelit Long Pool of this beautiful Muscat hotel.  Phenomenal Japanese food.  More tips on Oman can be found here.

The Chedi, Muscat



The Palmenhaus

The Palmenhaus has been around for years, and I still remembered it from my time of living in Vienna almost 20 years ago.  It’s a beautiful, airy, old tropical house, perfect for a coffee and an excellent cake, or for lunch or dinner, overlooking the Burggarten.  A special place.

Palmenhaus, Vienna

More recommendations for Vienna can be found here.

Blog, France, Paris

Brunch in the Marais, Paris

October 16, 2016
Brunch Marais Paris

The Marais is an area in Paris which you must visit when there.  The best time to go is undoubtedly Sunday, when much of Paris is closed but when the Marais comes fully to life.  Do not be stupid like me and think you’ll spontaneously find a nice brunch place here.  You might find many great looking places, but they won’t have a free table for you.  You really need to book for Sunday brunch.

Starting in the northern Marais, the more residential, local part of the area – there are plenty of wonderful places for brunch. Healthy hotspot Season (for other healthy options check out this post) has a terrace in the sun, as do a number of other lovely looking places on Rue Charles-Francois Dupuis.

brunch marais paris

Cafe Pinson and La Petite Table are both small but come very highly recommended.  There are always queues so, if booking is possible, book!  If you want to just grab a coffee on the go, I’m told that Ob-la-Di (so tiny it’s almost like a hole in the wall) makes the best coffee.

La Petite Table, ParisCafe Pinson, Paris

Walk south down Rue de Turenne, which for 5 minutes or so is a bit of a brunch waste-land.   Soon you’ll notice more people (tourists!) and more restaurants, more bars and more shops.  This is the heart of the Marais, around Place du Voges (a must-visit) and Rue Vieille du Temple.  It is a shoppers paradise, with plenty of vintage shops, as well as all your favourite French brands (Maje, Sandro, Claudie Peirlot, Cottonniers des Comptoir).

Place du voges paris

The most popular place by far seems to be Benedict.  I’ve never seen queues like it (not even in London).  They (apparently, I obviously wasn’t going to wait) serve an excellent French/American brunch.  I guess it’s popular for a reason!

Benedict, Paris

Les Philosophes is brilliantly located on Rue Vieille du Temple, with a fairly large terrace and thus ideal for people watching.  This is a bit of an institution, the food is as French as it gets (if slightly unrefined) and the prices reasonable (they rip you off though on the bottled water – 5 euros, opt for a carafe instead). The waiters are either friendly and upbeat, or over-worked and stressy (in which case you just can’t take it personally).

Les Philosophes, Paris

For something slightly more upmarket and quieter, try Jaja.  It’s set back from the Rue Saint-Crois de Bretonnerie, with a lovely courtyard and a small, more exclusive menu (more lunch than brunch).  Opposite, you will find the charming Au rendez vous des amis, which you again must book – it serves traditional French food and the staff are charming.  I was gutted not to be able to get a table here as it looked heavenly.

On the way to St Paul Metro station you must stop by Maison Georges Larnicol, for the best chocolate in town (and good as a snack on the Eurostar home).  You won’t regret it.

Maison Georges Larnicol, Paris

In short, there are plenty of options for an excellent brunch in the Marais, but just save yourself a lot of hassle, and book before you go!

NB I have not eaten at all the above recommendations.

Blog, France, Paris

Healthy Paris

October 16, 2016

Paris, like the rest of all European cities, seems to have jumped on the health bandwagon too.  While croissants, hot chocolate and macaroons are still definitely the top things to consume while in the city, if you need a break from all the butter then the following are some excellent healthy alternatives (without compromising on quality):

SEASON – the Marais

The northern Marais is wonderful, especially on a Sunday morning.  And walking from Temple Metro to Season, through this lovely, vibrant neighbourhood, there are multiple brunch places I wanted to check out. If you want to explore the Marais it’s a good way to do it, starting north and ending south near Place du Voges.  Yes, you’re going from more local and residential to fairly touristy, but it’s also fun to compare.  Anyway, Season is a lovely little cafe, perfect for a healthy breakfast in the sun (their Acai Bowl and Maca cakes look incredible).  They have a small terrace and it’s quiet.  They serve ‘Juice it’ juices (see below for further info) which are 6 euros and they have a whole fridge full (good for a takeaway).

Season, ParisSeason, paris


JUICE LAB – Saint-Germain des Pres, Pigalle & the Marais

Wow, this is as slick (and minimalist) as it gets.  There are three of these trendy juice bars in Paris, one in Pigalle (very close to Le Pantruche, which is meant to be great for lunch), one in the heart of the Marais, right by the stunning Place du Voges and the other in gorgeous Saint-Germain des Pres (below).  If you need a solid vitamin intake, this place has whatever juice concoction you might wish for.

Juice Lab, Paris


WILD & THE MOON – the Marais

This might have been my favourite healthy cafe.  While some of these places can be a bit smug, Wild & the Moon is very welcoming, with beautiful interiors.  Their main focus is on vegetables, super foods, and organic, seasonal food.  And they love to serve their food ‘cold-pressed, raw, intact, and prepared with love’.  This is clear.  Their ’boutique cafe’ in the northern Marais is an ideal place for brunch (though it does get busy on the weekends of course).  They also have a ‘Wild lab’ in Pigalle.

Wild & the moon, Paris


JUICE IT – Louvre/Palais Royale

This more relaxed juice bar is the perfect place to head to for a juice on the go in the cultural heart of Paris.  If you’ve tired of the Louvre or shopping on the Rue Saint Honore (or in nearby uber trendy concept store Colette), grab an excellent juice here and head to the Tuileries Gardens for a stroll.  Perfect!  They also stock their juices at other healthy cafes (like Season). 

Juice it, Paris



Blog, France, Paris

Alcazar, Paris – EAT

October 10, 2016

Saint Germain de pres is one of my favourite areas in Paris.  Ever since my grandmother first took me to Paris, and we stayed there in a beautiful pied a terre, I’ve been enchanted by the area.

And so it only seemed natural to return, this time for lunch.  I’d heard via via about the Alcazar, had seen on Instagram quite how pretty it looked, and heard about its ‘epic’ brunches.  We were not going for brunch, but Saturday lunch, and we arrived having walked through the city for a solid 3 hours that morning.

Alcazar, Paris

Arriving at a beautiful restaurant, with a mouth-watering menu, and being hungry, is one of my favourite things.  The minute a basket of ridiculously good bread was placed on the table I nearly inhaled the lot.  Which was a mistake as I still had lunch to eat.  They do a great lunch deal: two courses for EUR28, which is perfect.

Alcazar, Paris

To start Gene opted for the terrine and fois gras which was heavy (as predicted) but melt in the mouth.  I had wanted to go for the burrata, but it was finished, so I tried the ceviche.  It wasn’t particularly French, I know, but it was very well done.  For mains Gene tried the duckling, with butternut squash puree and baked figs.  The duck came a little too pink, but they whisked it away without a problem and returned it perfectly cooked.  I went for salmon tataki (again, not very French!) which was the perfect light main course (though a huge portion).

Alcazar, ParisAlcazar, Paris

Apart from the food itself, the restaurant’s interiors need a little praise.  Visually it is stunning; it may be one of the most instagrammable restaurants in Paris  I love being surrounded by plants, and here it feels almost like you’re eating in a greenhouse.  But with elegant marble tables, and an extraordinary light installation.  It has two levels, the ‘balcon’ has a very cool bar and you get great views of the restaurant below.  Plus the staff are very friendly and helpful, which I still find a bit of a rarity in Paris.

Alcazar, ParisAlcazar, ParisAlcazar, ParisAlcazar, Paris

We were too full to even consider pudding, and decided to walk to the newly renovated Les Halles for a coffee at the very cool Champeaux instead.  But seriously, if you’re in Paris, make sure you reserve time (and appetite) for St Germain, you won’t regret it.

NB If you come here for dinner and looking for a place for post dinner cocktails, head to the nearby Prescription Cocktail Club.


62 Rue Mazarine,

75006 Paris


France, Paris

What I love about Paris

May 12, 2013

Last weekend I returned to Paris with my father, again on the speedy Eurostar, but this time in Standard Premium.  Definitely worth paying the extra for – lots of leg room, a better than expected meal (big step up from aeroplane food) and a glass of wine.  The perfect way to zip to Paris, in just 2.5 hours.

This is what I loved about my last visit:

Discovering new affordable Bistros

We were staying at the Mandarin Oriental – as luxurious as it gets – so going for dinner at down to earth French bistros was just what we needed.

A la Biche au Bois is a short walk from Bastille Metro.  It is small and unassuming, but the decor is nicely done.  A large mirror covers one side, giving the impression the place is larger than it is, and it has a cosy feel.  It is a little cramped, but by chatty locals, making the experience all the more French.  They have a great 4 Course offer for €29.  And we are talking huge portions of hearty French food.  For starters expect duck terrine and onion soup.  For the main the special was Coq au Vin but I had steak with pepper sauce and a huge pile of fries.  The cheese board was delightful.  And for pudding you could have chocolate mouse, creme brûlée, creme caramel or chocolate ‘gateaux’.  I went for the latter and could barely get up afterwards.  Definitely will return.  Book at least a week ahead.

A la Biche au Bois, Paris

A la Biche au Bois

Cheeseboard at La Biche au Bois

Cheeseboard at La Biche au Bois

L’Ange 20 is also a charming French Bistro.  I found it on Trip Adviser and was curious because of its exceptionally high rating (I think No. 7 of all the restaurants in Paris).  None of the reviews had a bad word to say.  And it was again very reasonably priced – 2 courses for €22, 3 courses for €28.  Situated right by the Pompidou centre (not my favourite building but always quite fun to see) in a small, quiet side street, but surrounded by a few other tempting looking restaurants, Le Ange 20 is a very welcoming place.  It is TINY, with an open kitchen and as many tables squashed in as possible. The waiter was charming, spoke perfect English and was very attentive.  The food was a bit more refined than A la Biche au Bisous, I had gambas with guacamole and salad to start and slow-cooked lamb with fresh veg and pumpkin puree to follow.  I skipped pudding.  The only bad thing was the other guests.  All decidedly not French.  We had a Russian family next to us who unapologetically spilt wine all over us. And a lot of Americans.  I was obviously not the only one who read Trip Adviser.  Still, recommended.  Book at least a week ahead.

Lunch in a flowery side-street in the Marais

Sunday is the day to go to Marais.  Much of Paris shuts its door on this day but the Marais is in full swing.  Buzzing with locals and tourists a like, the winding cobbled streets of vintage shops, cute cafes and antique shops are full of life.  Place des Vosges remains one of my favourite squares and is worth a wander around.

Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges – Please do not sit on the grass

For brunch/lunch there are plenty of places but we wanted somewhere which was peaceful and preferably in the sun.  We didn’t get a place in the sun but we did find the perfect flowery side-street with a few lovely restaurants/cafes.  We choose TresOr and enjoyed a healthy and tasty salad and white wine amongst the flowers.  Food itself was nothing that special and not cheap but the location really made it for us.

Rue du Tresor, Marais

Rue du Tresor, Marais

TresOr, Paris



Sunbathing in the Tuilleries Gardens

My past visits to Paris have all been in the autumn/winter, when the weather was quite chilly.  This time the sun was out most of the time and it gave Paris the added beauty of a warm glow.  We were like a broken record, constantly commenting on how beautiful Paris was.  The Tuilleries Gardens can’t real be compared to the royal parks of London.  People don’t sit on the grass drinking beer or Pimms.  You don’t really have the gloriously imposing Louvre as a view from Hyde Park.  But the Tuilleries Gardens are, like the London parks, the place locals and tourists come to bask in the late-spring sun.  Not so much on benches but on green metal chairs with slanted backs which are surprisingly comfy.  Wonderful to sit and watch the world go by.  We even spotted a girl walking with a big sign which said ‘FREE HUGS’.  You’d think Parisians wouldn’t really appreciate that too much.  But she got a few hugs from randomers.  Pretty amusing.

Tuilleries Gardens

Tuilleries Gardens

A sunny statue, Tuilleries Gardens

A sunny statue

The view from Le Meurice Penthouse Suite

There are certainly perks of working in the luxury travel industry.  I was curious to see the famous Le Meurice (Dorchester Collection) – one of the top Paris palace hotels.  And so we were given a guided tour by ‘Guillaume’.  I found some of the rooms a bit stuffy and dowdy, but the main lobby and their English-style bar very comfortable and cool.  But the highlight by far was the terrace of the Penthouse Suite which we were lucky to see.  The views of Paris were the best I had ever seen.  So good it gave me goosebumps.  I still think they should make the terrace a restaurant, there wouldn’t be a restaurant in town that would beat that view (plus they have a 3* Michelin cook).

View Meurice with Dad

View Meurice with Dad

The view of Paris

The view of Paris

Brunch at Raffles The Royal Monceau

Such a cool hotel!  Interior designer and architect Philip Starck has cleverly thought out the ‘look’ behind this hotel.  Its quirky and fun but retains the highest standard of luxury.  Some may think it a bit OTT, but I loved it.  Best bit was their main restaurant and bar.  The buffet offers everything you want.  The puddings are all made by Pierre Herme.  Enough said.   Go there as a treat because it does not come cheap.

Raffles Royal Monceau staircase

Raffles Royal Monceau staircase

Raffles Royal Monceau

Raffles Royal Monceau

Stumbling across hidden gems

With a city like Paris you are bound to stumble across new places/streets/buildings which make you stand still and think ‘wow, how did I not know about this?’.  One of those places was Rue des Barres, on the edge of the Marais/Hotel de Ville, close to the Seine.  On a sunny Sunday afternoon it was totally rammed with everyone sitting outside, and I got the feeling this was not one of those tourist traps.  Beautiful views of St. Gervais-et-St.-Protais Church and very peaceful as it is set back form the main road.  The restaurant/’cafe du thé’ which looked most appealing was l’Ebouillante, with a reasonably priced menu and a bright terrace.

Lunch in the sun, Paris

Lunch in the sun


L'Ebouillante, Paris



Finding a cool Book Shop

Shakespeare & Company is the cutest bookshop you will ever come across.   Right opposite the Notre Dame, on the river Seine, you will find this small, higgledy piggledy book shop, first opened in 1919.  It’s friendly and welcoming. I love the fact that the staff there put their own reviews on their favourite books.  Sadly it has become a victim of its own success – it was so overcrowded when we went that I struggled to walk around.  This may have been because it was a Saturday afternoon but I think also simply because it is so famous and everyone wants to have a  look.  They also do a few cool literary events in the shop every month.

Shakespeare & Company, Paris

Shakespeare & Company, Paris

La Biche au Bois

45 Avenue Ledru-Rollin


Metro: La Bastille or Ledru-Rollin


L’Ange 20

6 Rue Geofrroy L’Angevin

Metro: Rambuteau


Raffles Le Royal Monceau

37 Avenue Hoche

Metro: Champs Elysees
Le Meurice, Dorchester Collection

228 Rue de Rivoli

Metro: Tuilleries or Louvre



7, Rue du Tresor, 75004 Paris

Metro: St Paul


Shakespeare & Company

37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris

Metro: Notre Dame


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